What is Glaucoma in Cats and How to Treat It

What is Glaucoma in Cats and How to Treat It

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Vision deterioration is a gradual process and cat owners may find it difficult to notice the condition early. Like the human variety, feline glaucoma occurs when a build up of fluid behind the eye is unable to drain, causing vision problems. Pressure from the fluid pushes up against the retina and optic nerve which results in painful nerve damage and if left untreated, will cause partial or total blindness. When determining what is glaucoma in cats, if your cat starts displaying symptoms of vision loss, visit your vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis. Treatment may involve surgery and medication to reduce eye pressure, as well as long-term condition management to prevent further vision damage.

Old age and certain cat breeds, such as Siamese, Persian, or Burmese are more susceptible to glaucoma. It can also occur if your cat has a history of eye infections, inflammation, cataracts, eye tumors, lens displacement or retinal detachment from injury. The cause of the glaucoma and the amount of pressure on the eye as well as other eye abnormalities will determine what treatment is needed. During your research on what is glaucoma in cats, for pets prone to any of the glaucoma risks, owners must stay vigilant and report any signs of vision problem to their veterinarian immediately. If your vet diagnoses or suspects glaucoma, they may refer your cat to a veterinary ophthalmologist for a full diagnosis and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

When trying to figure out what is glaucoma in cats, the first signs you may notice are bloodshot or cloudy looking eyes, but other subtle symptoms can appear slowly over time for either one of both eyes. Additional glaucoma symptoms include excessive squinting and eye rubbing, dilated pupils, constant blinking, depression or a change in behavior, and watery eye discharge. If their eyeballs start swelling or bulging, seek medical assistance immediately because their vision may already be highly compromised or lost. Determining vision loss at home can be difficult because even if your cat loses vision in one eye, they will naturally compensate with the other, making the problem less obvious. Pain and headaches are also a sign of glaucoma, but your cat may not show any outward expressions of pain except for the occasional headbutt for relief.

For additional help diagnosing your cat, there are resources online that can show you how to diagnose feline glaucoma. If you notice one or more of the symptoms above, bring your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible for a diagnosis.

Feline Glaucoma Treatment

Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will suggest your pet take eye drops for glaucoma in cats in order to reduce the pressure on the affected eyes. Cyclocryotherapy is used to surgically drain the eye of fluid and limit fluid-producing cells. However, once vision loss has begun, it is most likely irreversible, and treatment would therefore be focused on pain reduction and protecting the remaining healthy eye. If the glaucoma is caught early enough, prescription eye drops can be used to reduce intraocular pressure and inflammation. Medications including Zalatan and Cosopt are helpful at reducing the intraocular pressure in the eye. Unfortunately, blindness in the affected eye is still highly likely over time. In this case, your doctor may recommend removing the eyeball or sewing it shut.

Once you have discovered what is glaucoma in cats, treatment options can be used as a preventative measure and for maintaining existing eyesight. Addressing any underlying conditions which can cause vision problems, like a physical injury, is also a way to reduce the risk of glaucoma. Medication is only a temporary measure until surgery can be performed to save the remaining vision of the affected eye, assuming it is not too late. Therefore, once you know what glaucoma in cats is, a combination of medication and surgery are the best treatment options. However, these treatments can be very expensive, and the subsequent management of the condition is also very costly, which can ultimately still lead to a loss in vision.

Glaucoma Management

Even when you know what glaucoma in cats is, it may not be possible for your cat to avoid it, but your first line of defense against it should be early diagnosis and consistent management. Maintain regular visits to your veterinarian and schedule an appointment as soon as you notice anything suspicious about the eyes of your cat. Once you know what glaucoma in cats is and how to detect it, you should start preventative therapies immediately on the other eye. If your cat has glaucoma, you should keep it indoors and away from young children. As your cat loses vision, you will need to make special accommodations for an increasingly blind cat, such as moving the litter box closer and removing hazards.

Talk to you veterinarian about all the glaucoma medication and surgery options available for your cat depending on the nature and severity of their condition. While there is no cure, reducing pain and discomfort is an important part of treatment as your cat gets older. For more in depth information on this condition, the Vet Ophthalmol published a comprehensive review of feline glaucoma.

To learn more about what is glaucoma in cats, you should speak with your vet and then visit our website to find out about our cat medications.

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